Shale Gas and Democracy

Opponents of natural gas development often say the government should listen to the democratic argument. They should be careful what they wish for.

Oil and Gas resources in the UK belong to the Crown. This constitutional question recently escaped Frack Free Lancashire in a recent petition to the Queen. The Queen’s power is a reflection of the wishes of the people, as advised to her by Parliament. The irony of asking an unelected monarch to overrule an elected government for the first time since the Civil War is lost on the Lancashire Nanas. The democratic reality is that all 65 million of us are the owners of the hydrocarbons under the UK. Therefore one could easily say that the wishes of a couple of hundred residents of the Roseacre area about the disposition of common property should be considered equally with those of their fellow citizens who live hundreds of miles away, or even overseas. 82% of UK residents are in cities or large towns. Democracy is not a veto based on 18%, and of course, not everyone in rural areas are opposed.

Democracy goes through local and county councils and ultimately resides in Parliament. (All at the grace and favour of the Sovereign, at least in the convoluted theory of the unwritten UK constitution).

If the national Parliament only listened to the minority, it would ultimately defeat the purpose of ruling for the common, democratic, good – not narrow local interests as opposed to the democratic national majority. There were at least two candidates in the Fylde constituency who as recently as May 2015, ran on an express platform opposing shale gas development. While perhaps they did well in Roseacre, they didn’t have a majority among the 66,504 fellow local citizens. They received a total of 6,547 votes, 15% of those who voted and less than one out of ten eligible voters. 15% is not democracy.

The democratic argument against shale is thus not compelling even at the local level. The planning enquiry by the officers of Lancashire County Council took on their concerns and they ruled against them. It can be said they as public servants, addressed the concerns of the majority. The council themselves, intimidated into making a decision that was truly a national decision, acted rationally in kicking the debate upstairs into the national arena.

The Lancashire Nanas make the common mistake of self-isolating groups. They think because everyone they know agrees with them they have a majority.The problem lies in what was recently called the John Peel mistake in a piece pointing out the isolation of the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn:

Circa 1969, the DJ wondered why one of his favourite albums was not in the charts: “Everyone I know’s got a copy,” he said. Back came the reply: “No – you know everyone who’s got a copy.

That’s where the democracy debate belongs, isolated amongst the paranoid and angry. But it also belongs higher, as Friends of the Earth would surely admit. The impact of Lancashire shale gas on world carbon emissions must also be considered. The selfishness of a few can’t screw up the planet for the many. Despite the delusions of the Nanas, if Exxon Mobil can’t poison the air without being held ultimately to account, neither can the Friends of the Earth poison the debate for much longer. More on that next time.

Shale gas and filthy lucre

Sometime this month, the first ethane shipment from US shale is coming to the UK, ironically to Scotland to be used as feedstock at the Ineos Grangemouth facility.

It raises the same questions for the no shale anywhere school that have already arisen over imports of US shale oil and US LNG from shale already arrived in Spain and Portugal .US LNG will be headed to the UK and Belgium soon enough. It will be hard to propose no shale anywhere when it’s already lurking in the water heater. Continue reading Shale gas and filthy lucre

Running out of excuses. UK, and global, shale is inevitable.

In all the (eight plus) years I’ve been writing here, alternately banging the drum and my head upon the desk for global shale gas, a consistent theme has been fracanomics, the idea that shale gas economics don’t actually work.

It’s one of several riffs in the same tune, the lyrics being composed in a key from the 2008 financial collapse. In the UK especially, we don’t do new, exciting or interesting and least of all “unconventional”. After all, it’s hard for “conventional wisdom ” to understand  how  shale natural gas production techniques were only first discovered as recently as  1998, when slick water hydraulic fracturing first emerged as a result of using less chemicals, not more as this from NPR recently revealed: Continue reading Running out of excuses. UK, and global, shale is inevitable.

Shale gas and health.

Unlike most European shale experts, I’ve been to Pennsylvania and have lived to tell the tale.  The following  from Tom Shepstone  of Natural Gas Now reminds us how for shale activists there are no borders.   The Geisinger Study on shale health  has of course made the news in the UK and France. Activists in Yorkshire think the one study outbalances the Public Health England or myriad UK studies.  It is of course one study. No different than how people like the GWPF think one study disproves climate science.  We should hold both to a higher level of proof.

Continue reading Shale gas and health.

In France, La Rentrée du Gaz de schiste. Shale Gas: The Return

Long term readers, and it’s getting to so long term here at No Hot Air/Reimaginegas that several must have passed to the  big pipeline in the sky, will know how there is a special wound on my heart marked Gaz de Schiste: French shale gas.

Contemporaneously with the UK, which seems to be finally stirring,  the debate will inevitably evolve in France.  There is a particular French term “La Rentrée” which signifies not only the return to school, but to business and cultural life in general. It will be an especially political one this year in the primary campaigns to get candidates this year, and the first and second  rounds of the Presidential Election  in April and May. Continue reading In France, La Rentrée du Gaz de schiste. Shale Gas: The Return

The Keiser Report and Fracking: The view from the left

I never expected to convince many people via my two recent appearances on  RT TV’s Keiser Report and I wasn’t disappointed. (I’m in the second half of these segments). Max told me afterwards that I was  “A good representative for your industry, but you roll your eyes too much”. I replied “I’ve had years of practice”.

Continue reading The Keiser Report and Fracking: The view from the left

This year’s model. Let’s talk shale 2016 not 2009

I’ll write more on my two slots on RT’s Max Keiser Report once both are on You Tube or broadcast by this weekend, but a number of questions revolved around the past of shale.  At one point, I cited what so many in the UK debate don’t realise: “Grealy’s First Law of Shale: Anything over six weeks old is ancient history” Continue reading This year’s model. Let’s talk shale 2016 not 2009

Natural Gas to Renewables: We need you. And you need us

It’s long been proposed by climate scientists worldwide and several US environmentalists that natural gas and renewables are natural partners.  Yet the accepted wisdom, especially in the UK, is the complete opposite.  Attempts to point it out have been met with various levels of scorn or derision by anti fracking  (or pro High Carbon/Zero Tax  natural gas) advocates.  The few who have proposed the idea have been mocked and ridiculed as greenwashers by many groups who themselves are strong advocates of renewables.  It’s an unfortunate meme that is long past its sell by date.  The vast majority of environmental fears over fracking are not necessarily without a factual basis.  But they are without a factual basis in recent years.  Most fracktivists fight from objections based on the Gasland movie.  Whether they are valid or not isn’t the issue. The issue is that Gasland was filmed in 2009.

Continue reading Natural Gas to Renewables: We need you. And you need us

Ding! The DONG solution to UK shale revenues.

There’s been a lot of noise about UK shale this week, but the noise isn’t important.  A good trader concentrates on the signal, or in this case the signaller.  The story isn’t about the Shale Wealth Fund, an egregious case of making an omelette with eggs whose great grand parents haven’t hatched yet.  The real story is Prime Minister Theresa May’s involvement.

Mrs May has several other pressing concerns, but so far the biggest two have revolved around energy, first the Hinkley Saga, and now, in a very forthright manner, a long overdue emphasis on shale.  This is only one of several recent developments that bode well, finally, for UK shale.

Theresa May’s government heralded the plans for direct payments as evidence of her pledge to “put people first” in economic policy.

Continue reading Ding! The DONG solution to UK shale revenues.

What Fracking looks like in 2016

If we could simply convince people that “fracking” doesn’t mean thousands of wells or hundreds of well pads, as so many fracktivist groups in the UK insist will happen, we could then move on to a grown up discussion as to why are we using high carbon/zero tax LNG in the UK instead of the lower carbon high tax alternative onshore shale gas offers.

Anti groups depend on a combination of fear, Photoshop and outdated images of fields entirely unrepresentative of what modern shale would involve.  Since so much of the fear is based on outdated concepts, what example can be used about what shale gas development actually involves? Continue reading What Fracking looks like in 2016

UK based but with a global scope, No Hot Air provides information on various energy issues but especially in the global implications of shale gas.